Thematic Panel 7: Inequalities and care needs  

Lina Van Aerschot and Teppo Kröger, University of Jyväskylä
Nicola Brimblecombe, London School of Economics and Political Science

Older and disabled people are, in the main, expected to live at home with the help of their families and other informal carers. However, also services and personal assistance are needed. These may be either publicly provided or privately purchased, depending on the national care policies, social policy systems and individual socio-economic resources. The ways in which care and services are organized and allocated may enhance and built equality related to care and assistance –or create inequalities.

Unmet care needs may be related to unavailability of services or informal care, not being aware of or not being able to access services, high prices or other obstacles. Furthermore, care needs may remain unmet when help and assistance is received but they are not extensive enough, the quality is inadequate or they are not provided at the right time. Individual care needs also change over time, sometimes along increasing age and sometimes unexpectedly.

It has been shown, that both socioeconomic background and health status are related to disadvantaged positions regarding care. Unmet care needs have recently also been analyzed using a new concept of care poverty pointing out that it is a societal and political problem.

The institutional settings and temporal development of care systems and care policies are very relevant to this panel as well as the practical level of care arrangements. How are equal rights to care enhanced – or are they? To what extent do policies and service arrangements promote equality? What is the role of informal and unpaid care in decreasing or, on the contrary, creating or maintaining inequality? Have there been changes over time – has inequality increased or decreased –  including during the time of COVID-19 measures and recovery?

This thematic panel calls for presentations dealing with inequalities in care. We welcome especially papers that connect inequalities related to care with wider questions, changes and temporal aspects of social and public policy. The topics may be related to social inequalities among older or disabled people or between different age groups, or to unmet needs, care poverty, vulnerable positions, inadequate care and different mechanisms that lead to a disadvantaged position or terms of having care needs met.

Posted in Conference 2021, Thematic Panels.